Review of Power, Corruption and Lies Uncovered
Sometimes an album comes around at such a time that it will infect you for life. This album may come at a time when there is a huge upheaval, when emotions run riot or when conditions are just right for the change.
The year is 1986 and I am about eleven/twelve years old and just entering the second year of school. I was starting to listen to music at this time, Madonna and Prince mainly and after me, my sister and my mum went to a local jumble sale; I bought my first two records. These records were The Jam-Around The World in a Day and Pink Floyd's Another Brick in the Wall, my sister managed to buy a copy of New Order's second LP and my mum bought a bag of secondhand clothes.
After the jumble sale, my sister began to play the record on my Dansette record player and after the first listen; I fell in love with it. When I used to play the said record, I used to get a clout of my sister but eventually the record stayed in my bedroom and became one of the first records in my then growing collection.
Even through my ever-changing taste in music as a teenager with listening to bands such as Slayer and Napalm Death and to Pop Will Eat Itself and The Jesus and Mary Chain, this record kept itself within regular rotation. This record kept me sane through adolescence, school bullying and family break-ups. Songs such as 5-8-6, Your Silent Face and Leave Me Alone became embedded within my existence.
The sleeve art has probably influenced me through my taste in graphic design and my early interest in art as a teenager and this maybe permeated into how I chose what I buy when it comes to record buying.
Eventually, through having to live in a mobile home when I left home, this and all the rest of the records that I had accumulated through the years got stolen and I was distraught. I managed to get a handful back through sheer determination but not Power, Corruption and Lies.
When I finally bought the album on Compact Disc a few years later, I got a big surprise. Because the record isn't labeled on the sleeve with tracklisting and other information, I have been playing the LP in the wrong order. I had been playing side B as Side A and so on, so when playing the CD thereafter, the album got a bit confused. Your Silent Face should be the album starter and 5-8-6 should be the closer anyway. I didn't like We All Stand and The Village reminded me of my sister singing into a hairbrush and slamming a bedroom in my face so when I (stole) the record, these two track were always dodged for the already mentioned classic 5-8-6. With luck, the album in vinyl form was bought again when I was in my mid thirties and the true running order was re-established.
This year is the thirtieth anniversary of Power, Corruption and Lies release. I believe that this changed the course of music through its production values, design and overall musicality. It is one of those records that without it's existence there would be a huge void. It has probably influenced the whole electronic music scene of both Britain and predominately, New York and Chicago/Detroit. The record is full of the New York electro/gay scene, Manchester's post punk and Germanic Krautrock.
So, with its 30th birthday coming up popular rock magazine-Mojo decide to release a cover album of contemporary electronica rock bands playing a song each. I quickly did my irrational fan thing and bought a copy, albeit tentatively.
Yeah, some of the tracks are ok; with some tracks being so close to my heart I became ever so hypercritical. Some songs fell through the radar such as The Golden Filter's Age of Consent and Tarwater's We All Stand. These two sound so anemic that a blood transfusion is needed. Hand's up to Errors’ version of The Village though, they've made it a slomo new romantic number.
SCUM made 5-8-6 into a generic electro number but don't get me started on Fujiya & Miyagi's rendition of Your Silent Face. The humanity, the warmth and the joy have been stripped away. It still has some of the elements of the original but important basslines and nuances had been ignored. Yeah, this is a covers album and people will do their thing with the tracks but you either do a faithful version or you rip the track's innards out, stamp on the remains and then make a new beast altogether. I may be harsh on the chaps but this song has saved me through bad times and has entered my being. It isn't really that bad of a run through the song and I do like Fujiya & Miyagi but it was a bad choice of a cover.
On the other hand, Seekae has done one of the best jobs on the whole album with their version of Ultraviolence. They have reduced this track to its basest elements and have become a new track. I just adore this track as they have done it and will in time, become a classic. It is the CDs shortest track but a track that commands a second and third listen. Walls's Ecstasy was skipped after the first few bars, sorry and Leave Me Alone by Destroyer is a faithful rendition and that is all I have to say on that.
The extra tracks on the cover CD are Biosphere doing a Germanic/robotic voxed Blue Monday, interesting I suppose but The Beach was always my favourite of the two and Zombie Zombie is a vastly superior cover. After Seekae, the two stand out tracks are Lonelady's Cries and Whispers (Mesh) and Anothers Blood, Lonesome Tonight. These two tracks are usually hard to find and was b-sides for other releases. I think because of the emotional detachment to these two, I am more forgiving in their musical arrangements even though, Mesh is a personal favourite but with the addition of the female vocals..it has elevated the track.
Last but not least is the behemoth that is Murder. This was an American only release; my copy is so I'll stick with my information on that. Murder is an electro monster from New Order and has been part of my collection for over twenty years. It has been played at parties both my own and others that I was invited to play at. I have fallen out of love and then bounced back to this track. K-X-P is another unknown group..I still don't know what they do but gosh and feckin' golly what have they done to Murder.
This is 4.12 of sonic electronica and is rightly kept until the end. It is not that dissimilar to the original but is still a bloody rendition. I quite like the break off towards the end and what appears to reduce the track into ashes of it's former self.. An excellent finish to a somewhat patchy CD. Technically free but I had to buy and then throw the magazine for the pleasure.
When emotional attachment is placed onto songs or movies or whatever, you can become slightly fetishtic about them. Your Silent Face is such a totem, as it became a catalyst for a change in me. I was beginning to forge my own ideas at the time and what with adolescence happening, the emotions of such a change became embedded. I am just glad that Destroyer's version of Leave Me Alone didn't cause such an offence and they kept within the confines of the original.
I have heard this CD some more times since I past judgment on it and some of the reactions have subdued quite a bit and now beginning to enjoy the flow of the record as a new experience but, a bad cover version is like having a dog shitting on your favourite record, turning around and looking at you saying, 'well, clean this up then'. It does cause that much upset but, yeah, one has to breathe and just get on with living. Oh, I do like The Golden Filter's Age of Consent now and find it quite sweet and has erased my adolescent hang-ups about the track..
My opinions have softened a little and now able to listen to Fujiya and Miyagi's track now without recoiling in horror.